Mexico earned the hosting rights for the FIFA World Cup three times (1970, 1986, 2026), whereas the Liga MX keeps Mexican fans of pro fútbol entertained year in and year out. The 2022-23 Liga MX season has already provided some great highlights around the 18-team circuit — and it’s raised even more questions, with two league championships still up for grabs. So it’s time to dive into our Liga MX guide.
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Liga MX Questions
Who is vying to lead Liga MX in goals? Which clubs are excelling or struggling in the Apertura (opening) tournament? Which clubs are laying the groundwork for success in the Clausura (closing) tournament that kicks off in January 2023? In the big picture, which North American league is faring better in the classic “Liga MX vs. MLS” debate? The list of questions goes on.
Let’s take a closer look in this Liga MX update, going club by club in alphabetical order.
Liga MX Teams
Guadalajara’s Liga MX club enjoyed massive success in 2021-22, capturing both the Apertura 2021 and Clausura 2022 titles. Those victories ended a 70-year championship drought for Atlas. However, after playing approximately 60 matches over the last year, Atlas is facing some fatigue and injury woes and has struggled to score.
Don’t count out manager Diego Cocca’s defending champion Zorros, though. Stringing together a few wins could still land them a Liguilla playoff berth by the time the regular season ends on October 2.
Atletico de San Luis
The San Luis Potosi coat of arms features gold and silver bars, but it’s unclear whether the city’s Atletico de San Luis has what it takes to strike it rich with their first Liga MX title ever.
The team, promoted from Mexico’s second division in 2019, got some inspiration with a 3-2 comeback win over struggling Pumas on August 19. Uruguayan striker Abel Hernández, who delivered that win with his hat trick, looks rejuvenated. The 32-year-old veteran, who has played everywhere from England’s Premier League to Brazil’s Serie A, totaled five goals in his first 11 games and could wind up leading Liga MX in goals.
As usual, the most successful Liga MX club of all time (13 league titles) is a top contender. Forward Henry Martin — sometimes the target of critics — was red-hot in August, leading the way with two-goal outings in back-to-back wins over Leon (3-2) and Juárez (2-1). Martin’s heroics spurred talk that he could land a spot on the Mexican World Cup team bound for Qatar in November.
The ebullient mood at Azteca Stadium hit new heights when Club America thrashed fellow Mexico City rivals Cruz Azul 7-0 in their latest Clásico Joven installment in front of 45,000-plus fans. Manager Fernando Ortiz told Club America supporters to relish it: “These historic moments very rarely happen against a rival in a clásico.”
After the 7-0 loss to Club America on August 20, marking the worst defeat in Cruz Azul’s Liga MX history, manager Diego Aguirre was fired. It’s no wonder Cruz Azul diehards feel as blue as their traditional home jerseys. Defensively porous, the team — whose five all-time CONCACAF Champions Club titles are tied for tops with (wait for it) Club America — is languishing near the bottom of the Liga MX table.
Raúl Gutiérrez, Aguirre’s interim replacement, has his work cut out for him after suddenly being promoted from managing Cruz Azul’s U20 squad. The recent transfer of star forward Santiago Giménez to Netherlands side Feyenoord doesn’t make Gutiérrez’s life any easier right now.
Juarez — founded in 2015 and promoted to Liga MX in 2019 — are still finding their way in the Mexican top flight. To illustrate, the Ciudad Juarez-based club got an encouraging early 2-0 win over Tijuana on July 8, but then didn’t record another victory until nipping Atlas 1-0 on August 16.
After a recent loss to Tigres UANL, manager Hernán Cristante pinpointed one of his team’s key failings: “We need to show a little bit more fearlessness in our attempts to make things happen in the offensive third.” Yet if Juarez can maintain their respectable defensive efforts, the Liguilla playoffs may be within reach.
It’s been a sub-par campaign for Chivas. This is a far cry from the glory days of winning a record seven Campeón de Campeónes titles between 1957 and 1970 or watching Omar Bravo rack up an all-time Guadalajara high of 132 goals. The club is teetering on the edge of the playoff picture.
Nonetheless, Chivas landed their first win of the season by hammering Nexaca 4-0 on August 20, and that could be a rallying point. Ángel Zaldívar set the tone with a classy opening goal for what’s historically been Mexico’s most popular team.
León won the Apertura in 2013 and 2020, as well as the 2014 Clausura, but the classic Mexican club has struggled to impress this season. Despite the goal-scoring potential of 25-year-old Argentinian star Lucas Di Yorio, León is far down in the standings. 2022 doesn’t seem like the year for a stirring revival in the Liguilla playoffs.
New Portuguese manager Renato Paiva, who won the Ecuadorean Serie A title with Independiente del Valle in 2021, is still working to get full buy-in from the players on his vision.
Mazatlán got its Liga MX club in 2020 when Monarcas Morelia relocated to Sinaloa’s second-biggest city. However, since then, Mazatlán has never recorded a top-10 Liga MX finish in either Apertura or Clausura. It appears that unfortunate streak will likely continue this fall.
At least there were some promising highlights for Mazatlán supporters in August, including a 2-1 home victory over Chivas and a 3-0 away win against León. Eduard Bello and Emilio Sánchez are among the club’s best offensive spark plugs, thus far.
Monterrey’s four out of five national titles happened during the 21st century (1986, 2003, 2009, 2010, 2019). And under legendary manager Víctor Manuel Vucetich, another Apertura championship could be in the works.
Northern Mexico’s oldest active pro fútbol team is a bona fide contender for top spot in the regular season. Their high-powered offense compares favorably with the likes of Club America and Toluca. In a tribute to Monterrey’s outstanding performance, four of their players — midfielders Rodolfo Pizarro and Luis Romo and defenders Jesuús Gallardo and Ceésar Montes — were added to the national team roster for an August 31 friendly game against Paraguay.
Necaxa celebrates its 100th anniversary in 2023. The club would love to revive the winning vibe that brought three Mexican first-division titles to Aguascalientes in the ’90s (1995, 1996, 1998). However, the current Apertura campaign under manager Jaime Lozano has been middle-of-the-road at best.
Consistency remains an issue. Apart from consecutive wins in July over Juarez (1-0) and Pachuca (2-0), Necaxa has struggled to put together winning streaks. Milton Giménez and Facundo Batista are supplying the lion’s share of the offense, but there isn’t enough scoring to intimidate the top-tier clubs.
Hungry to capture their first national title since Clausura 2016, Pachuca can take extra motivation from the memory of a heartbreaking finals loss to Atlas in Clausura 2022.
Argentinian striker Nicolás Ibáñez has been driving the attack for Los Tuzos, building on his strong campaigns for his previous club, Atletico de San Luis. However, the club still needs a stepped-up performance from versatile midfielder Victor Guzmán to make some noise in the current Apertura season.
If you ask Jozy Altidore, who’s currently on loan to Puebla from the New England Revolution, the level of Liga MX remains superior to that of MLS. “Here tactically, soccer-wise, it is a little better, a little stronger,” the veteran striker said in a recent interview.
However, Puebla, after exploding offensively in a 4-2 opening win over Mazatlán on July 1, hasn’t been able to find that extra gear to defeat many opponents. This season, the club that won the first-division title in 1983 and 1990 is vying for the league lead in draws. Puebla must bring up their level with the Liguilla playoffs looming.
To put it mildly, it’s been a season to forget for Querétaro. The hapless club didn’t get their first Aperturo victory until their 10th match, a 2-0 home decision against Tijuana. Argentinian manager Mauro Gerk, who starred for Querétaro with 62 goals from 2005 to 2009, is looking for answers at both ends of the pitch.
The gloomy atmosphere is understandable. Due to a violent riot at their home stadium of Corrigedora Stadium back in March, Querétaro is under orders to play with no fans in the stands for a year, and the team will be sold to new ownership by the end of 2022. For a club whose mascot is a rooster, there’s nothing to get cocky about.
Hopes are high among Santos Laguna supporters as their club has surged as of late. Immense credit goes to goalkeeper Carlos Acevedo, who made his MLS All-Star Game debut with the Liga MX squad in August. After recording six clean sheets last season, Acevedo remains brilliant during this Apertura campaign. He is bidding to crack the Mexican World Cup team.
With Juan Brunetta, Fernando Gorriarán and Hugo Rodríguez helping to spark the well-balanced Santos attack, it’s not inconceivable that the northern Mexico club could capture its seventh Liga MX title this year.
Andre-Pierre Gignac joined Tigres UANL back in 2015, and remains a potent force as the club’s all-time leading scorer. Although Gignac, 36, has sparked some controversy due to being unvaccinated against COVID-19, the French international’s continued production is crucial if Tigres want to earn their first Apertura title since the three-peat of 2015-17.
Guided by manager Miguel Herrera, Tigres has shown plenty of bite in the current Liga MX campaign and could wind up atop the standings. They’ve often managed to prevail in tight matches, although their scoreless tie versus rival Monterrey in the Clásico Regio on August 20 was a bit underwhelming.
After fashioning a three-game winning streak at the end of July, Xolos has had their ups and downs, falling into mid-table mediocrity. To mark the 10th anniversary of their lone Liga MX title (Apertura 2012) would be a dream — but it seems unlikely to come true, despite the ardent wishes of fans at Tijuana’s Caliente Stadium.
Winger Lucas Rodríguez arguably has had to provide more than his fair share of the offense for Xolos to this point. Goalkeeper Jonathan Orozco, now 36, isn’t what he was in his Gold Cup salad days of the early 2010s. The club has lots of work to do prior to Liguilla.
Could 2022 herald Toluca’s return to glory? Founded in 1917, the club’s achievements include three prior Apertura championships (2002, 2005, 2008), and there’s reason for optimism now. Under manager Ignacio Ambríz, who captained Mexico at the 1994 World Cup, Diabolos Rojos managed to go unbeaten in seven consecutive matches between July 23 and August 17.
If midfielder Leonardo Fernández and winger Jean Meneses maintain their scoring touch, anything is possible for this powerful side.
Pumas are lucky to have such loyal supporters. Even though the Mexico City-based club ranks near the bottom of the table this year, they continue to lure fans to Estadio Olímpico Universitario. Pumas has already seen more than 150,000 fans pass through the gates, the highest total, thus far, in Liga MX. Yet when you struggle to score at a goal-per-match pace, you can’t expect too many trophies.
A tough 3-0 loss in August to Club America symbolized the club’s woes. A UNAM playoff berth seems like a distant dream. Adding Brazil international Dani Alves — the most decorated player in football history — looks good on paper, but expectations must be tempered as the right-back is now 39 years old. Liga MX is a tough place to succeed, but that’s what makes the Mexican top flight so exciting.
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